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Portland Timbers to Host Columbus Crew in Season Opener

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers will host the Columbus Crew SC on March 6th to kick off their 2016 MLS Season. The 2015 MLS Cup Final rematch will be broadcast on ESPN.

While the rest of the MLS schedule is not expected to be released until January, knowing that the Timbers will start the season at home against an opponent who will certainly be looking to make a mark should give Portland a good idea of what the season should be like as the defending champions.

The Timbers, of course, have yet to lose a home opener in their MLS history, going 2-0-3 since joining the league. In Caleb Porter's tenure with the team, however, the Timbers have also not won their home opener, getting all three ties during his time in charge.

This match will give the Timbers a good chance to come out and make their mark on the league; if the team wants to take the next step forward and be a winning team throughout the year and not just a team that is able to peak going into the playoffs, this is an excellent opportunity to start.

The Timbers' opener comes just over a week after the team's final preseason match, the final match of the 2016 Simple Invitational against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, February 27th.

The Timbers' press release:

Portland to kick off 2016 season presented by Simple at home against Eastern Conference champions in nationally televised match on ESPN

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2015 MLS Cup-champion Portland Timbers will play host to Columbus Crew SC on Sunday, March 6, at Providence Park in an MLS Cup rematch to open the 2016 season presented by Simple. A national broadcast of the match begins at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific) on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The match was announced today as MLS unveiled details for each club’s home-opening match for the league’s 21st season.

The March 6 opener marks Columbus’ first trip to Portland since the 2014 season, and just its fourth in Portland’s six MLS seasons. The Timbers defeated Crew SC twice on the road in 2015, including a 2-1 victory at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Dec. 6 as Portland lifted its first MLS Cup.

Portland’s match during Week 1 of the MLS schedule will mark the fifth time that Portland opens its home schedule against an Eastern Conference opponent in the club’s MLS history as well as its fifth consecutive home, season-opening game. Since 2011, Portland has opened its home schedule against Eastern Conference clubs Chicago (2011), Philadelphia (2012, 2014) and the New York Red Bulls (2013).

Since 2011, Portland is 2-0-3 in MLS home openers and has logged a record of 12-7-9 against Eastern Conference clubs at Providence Park. In addition, the Timbers have compiled one of the league’s best home records over the last three seasons with an overall mark of 24-7-20.

The full season schedule, including the U.S. national television schedule, will be announced by MLS on January 7.